General questions about Stripe

Overview

What is Stripe?

Stripe is the easiest way to accept credit and debit card payments online.

With Stripe, you can create exactly the payment experience you want in your website or mobile app, and we handle everything from security to daily transfers to your bank account. You can get started immediately.

For a sample of what others have created with Stripe, check out the Stripe Gallery.

Who is Stripe for? Who's using it today?

Thousands of businesses and organizations are using Stripe today: Fortune 500 companies, rapidly-growing startups, side projects, nonprofits, and everything in between. Check out the Stripe Gallery for a broad sampling.

Stripe isn't just for one particular kind of payment. Whether you're charging for a service, selling physical goods, taking donations, or enabling payments for others, Stripe can work for you.

I have a product I'd like to sell, but I haven't created a separate legal entity for my business. Can I use Stripe?

Yes! If you don't have a separate entity and operate by yourself, you have a sole proprietorship; if you don't have a separate entity and you operate with others, you have a partnership. When you activate your account, just choose the appropriate option for your business type.

If you later create a business entity, it's easy to update your Stripe account to reflect your new status.

What doesn't Stripe do? Who shouldn't use it?

  • Stripe doesn't offer point-of-sale devices that let you physically swipe a credit or debit card. However, for in-person transactions, you or your customer can type payment information into a web page or app served on a mobile device. Also, you're very welcome to use Stripe for some parts of your business and work with another provider for others.
  • Right now, we're publicly available in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland. We have betas in a few other countries, but if you're outside of those areas we unfortunately aren't going to be able to help with your payments right now. We're working hard to roll out Stripe in other countries: if you let us know where you are, we'll get in touch when Stripe is available there.
  • There are certain types of businesses that we can't serve. We have a list of businesses we can't support, and if you're unsure just ask.

Can I still use Stripe if I'm not a developer (and don't work with any)?

You can still use Stripe through one of the services that include payments via Stripe as part of their offering.

For example, to create an online store consider Shopify, Shoplocket, or Ultracart—we'll still handle payments for you, and these partners will let you set up your whole store from their website.

Are you a merchant account, or a gateway—or something else?

Stripe is a complete solution that replaces all of the above.

If you work with the legacy payments industry you may need to integrate and interact with multiple vendors to accept payments online (a merchant account to receive funds, a gateway to submit payments, maybe even a third service to manage recurring charges). By contrast, Stripe is designed to be simple—we accept your payment data, and we deposit the funds in your bank account. As a result, you only need to work with us.

Why is Stripe better than the other options I'm considering?

Glad you asked! Here are some reasons that others have chosen Stripe:

  • Stripe is the only payments service you'll need. You won't need to find and work with a separate merchant account provider, gateway, subscriptions manager, or any other piece of the legacy payments industry puzzle.
  • An elegant, powerful API makes it quick and easy to integrate with Stripe. (See what developers are saying.)
  • Complete freedom to create the payment experience you want—your site or app, your workflow, your brand.
  • You can charge your users however you want: one-time purchases, subscriptions, metered billing, and event-based charges are all straightforward with our flexible API.
  • Competitive, crystal-clear pricing. We charge you one rate for each successful transaction. There are no additional charges for failed transactions, American Express cards, international cards, stored cards, or recurring payments. It's easy to understand, easy to project, and without any surprises. (More about pricing.)
  • We shoulder the PCI compliance burden by ensuring that you never need to handle sensitive card data. (Learn more about PCI and our approach.)

Can I use Stripe for just some of my payments?

Sure, if that makes sense for your needs! We only charge you for successful Stripe transactions—there are no setup or monthly fees, no account minimums, and no contract durations, so there's nothing to lock you in.

With that said, if you do find yourself in this situation, we'd love to learn why we're not a good fit for all of your needs. Please feel free to let us know!

Will Stripe scale? Am I too big for Stripe?

Stripe is designed for businesses of every size, including Fortune 500 and publicly-traded companies. See a sampling of who's using Stripe today.

No matter your scale, Stripe will work for you. If you expect peak traffic above 1 million API requests per hour, we'd be happy to discuss your implementation in advance of your launch.

I have more questions, what should I do?

We know this page just scratches the surface, and we're eager to help however we can. You can find answers to more common questions and get in touch with us at support.stripe.com.

The Payment Experience

What will my customers see? Will they need to go to a Stripe webpage?

Your customers will see exactly what you want them to see—and they'll never need to leave your website, app, or service.

Stripe's service lives entirely behind the scenes. You'll send payment information to us via our API, and the the user experience is entirely up to you: your workflow, your layout, your brand.

What types of payments can I accept with Stripe?

You can use Stripe to accept credit and debit card payments. The set of card brands you can accept depends on where you're located:

  • United States businesses can accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, Diners Club, and JCB.
  • Canada businesses can accept Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.
  • United Kingdom businesses can accept Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.
  • Ireland businesses can accept Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.
  • Australia businesses can accept Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.
  • Belgium businesses can accept Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.
  • Finland businesses can accept Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.
  • France businesses can accept Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.
  • Germany businesses can accept Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.
  • Luxembourg businesses can accept Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.
  • Netherlands businesses can accept Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.
  • Spain businesses can accept Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.
  • Switzerland businesses can accept Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.

Do you handle electronic check/ACH payments?

Not today, but please let us know if you're interested—we'll revisit this question periodically and would love to understand your needs.

When I charge a customer, what will they see on their card statements?

Whatever you choose! You'll set how your business name appears on statements when you activate your account, and once that's done you can update the description whenever you like from your settings page. (This is a manual process—you can't currently change the description via API, e.g. on a per-purchase basis).

To ensure that your customers recognize the charge, you should choose a name that customers most closely associate with you. This might not be your official corporate name—your website domain or the product for which you are known may be a good choice.

Also, we recommend activating your account as soon as possible: though your business name will appear on all statements, for about a week after activation some American Express customers may see "STRIPE" in their online statements while a charge is pending. (We're working on it.)

With Stripe Can I…

…save payment card information so customers don't have to re-enter it later?

Yes, absolutely. You can use Stripe to collect a customer's card information at any time (whether you're charging them at the time or not), and then charge that customer at any later times in the amounts of your choosing. Here's how.

By using Stripe to save customer cards, you can enable one-click-like payments, save your customers time, and boost conversion rates on future purchases.

…set up subscription payments?

Yup! (That's going to be a theme of this section.) Here's how.

More specifics about subscription plans:

  • For weekly, monthly, quarterly, 6-month, and annual subscription billing—or, really, a billing period of any whole number of months or weeks—Stripe will manage recurring billing for you. (And it's not a problem if you have a more unusual schedule, you'll just need to handle the timing on your side.)
  • Subscriptions can have free trials of any length.
  • You can create subscription plans with charges that depend on a quantity, e.g. a number of seats or licenses.
  • You can modify a customer's subscription plan (with resulting pro-rated billing) at any time.

If you wish, we can also notify your system when a customer is billed and when a payment fails. This notification (called a webhook) makes it easy for you to automatically update your records and third-party systems, email receipts, and contact customers when they need to update their payment information.

…charge my customers different amounts every billing period (e.g. metered billing based on usage)?

Yup! Here's how.

…charge my customers when they take certain actions?

Yup! (We warned you.)

Once you've used Stripe to store a customer's card (as described above) you can charge those cards at any time for any amount you choose.

…create coupons for discounts and tracking purposes?

Yup! Here's how.

…check whether a card is valid without charging it at the same time?

Yup!

When you use Stripe to save card information (as described above) we verify the card information for you. (To be clear, this doesn't guarantee availability of a sufficient credit limit for a future transaction, but it catches the far more common problems of typos and similar issues.)

In addition, this validation process also provides the result of card security code and billing address checks.

...authorize a charge and then wait to settle it later?

Yes. (Here's how.)

With that said, in speaking with many of our customers, we've found that there are often better ways to handle the use cases that motivate separate authorization and settlement. For example, you can save credit card details and charge them later.

...manually enter in my customers' payment information into Stripe?

Yes—you can do so from your dashboard.

…enable my users to receive payments from others? (E.g. marketplaces, SaaS payment services, crowdfunding campaigns, donation portals.)

Yes! We've created Stripe Connect for exactly these use cases.

With Stripe Connect, you can accept payments for your users without being involved in the flow of funds. When your users "Connect with Stripe", they'll be prompted to connect their existing Stripe account or frictionlessly create their own, and you'll have access to their account to make API calls for them.

For example, Shopify, Squarespace, and Goodsie help their users easily create online storefronts and integrate with Stripe Connect to handle store payments.

Since the transactions are being run on your users' individual accounts, this means that:

  • No funds flow through your account (except if you'd like to take a cut of the transaction), so you're not held responsible for any refunds or chargebacks.
  • Stripe will underwrite your sellers and take care of all tax reporting (namely, 1099-K's).
  • Stripe will keep track of how much is owed to each individual user and automatically transfer funds to them on a 7-day rolling basis.
  • Your users will have access to the Stripe dashboard for reporting and analytics needs.

However, you can still:

  • Take a cut of each transaction with application fees. All you need to do is specify the amount; we'll take care of making sure both you and your vendor are paid.
  • Share customers across sellers; this is perfect for marketplaces or other services that need customers to purchase from multiple sellers at once.

If you're looking for more control over the flow of funds and payouts, check out our documentation on sending transfers.

…do something you haven't named here?

Let us know what you have in mind and we're happy to dive into the details with you.

International

Which countries does Stripe support?

Currently we can support business and individuals in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland. If you're in the United States, you'll need a U.S. address and a significant shareholder with a valid Social Security Number.

If you're based outside of those countries, we have to beg your patience. The Stripe team hails from around the world, and we understand just how broken the global payments landscape can be. Rest assured we're working hard to expand our support—please let us know where you'd like to see Stripe next, and we'll reach out when we're ready for you.

What if my customers aren't in the same country as me?

Not a problem. Using Stripe you can create payments with credit and debit cards carrying major card brand logos for customers anywhere in the world.

And—since you were about to ask—there are no extra fees for these customers. (More about pricing.)

Which currencies does Stripe support?

The currencies Stripe supports depend on where your business is located. Currently, businesses in the US and Europe can create charges in 139 currencies. If you're based in Canada, you can accept payments in CAD and USD. Businesses in Australia can accept payments in AUD. We're working to make additional currencies available in other countries as quickly as possible.

To be clear, it's not a problem if your customers' payment cards are based in other currencies. For example, if a customer has a Euro-based credit card and you're charging in U.S. dollars, the customer will see an uneven Euro charge on their credit card and you'll see the exact same deposit and fees as if you were charging a customer with a U.S. dollar-based card.

Pricing and Terms

How much does Stripe cost?

Pricing for our service will always be transparent:

  • A standard transaction rate, which starts at 2.9% + 30¢ per successful transaction, with volume discounts available.
  • Automatically get paid out to your bank account for free, or send funds to any third-party bank account for just 25¢ per transfer ($1 fee if the transfer fails).
  • Chargebacks—which, to be clear, are different from refunds—incur a fee of $15 each. If the dispute is resolved in your favor, we refund the fee (More about chargebacks).

That's it, really! No setup fees, no monthly fees, no minimum charges, no fees for validations or failed transactions, no fees for different card types (e.g. American Express, corporate cards, rewards cards), no fees for international cards, no card storage fees.

What fees aren't you telling me about?

No, really, that's it.

OK, what will other people charge me as part of accepting payments with Stripe?

No, we mean it. There's nothing else. Stripe is the only payment service you need, and so there's no one else in the pipeline to charge you.

Scrounging around for something else you could need to pay for, you will need to have an SSL certificate. But you should really have one anyway, so that doesn't count.

Stripe's rates seem higher than some other options. What's the deal?

The simplicity of our pricing smoothes over a lot of fee variations that some other payment providers use as opportunities to tack on extra fees. For example:

  • We don't charge a different rate for American Express charges; with some other providers you may pay ~3.5%.
  • We don't charge extra fees for non-U.S. credit cards; many others charge an extra ~1.0%.
  • We don't obscure your costs behind hard-to-predict "qualified" and "non-qualified" card categories.
  • We don't charge for storing cards or recurring billing.
  • We don't charge a monthly subscription.
  • We don't hide additional fees inside separate "gateway" or "assessment" pricing.
  • We don't charge for invalid or declined card data.

We've worked hard to keep our pricing simple (as well as very competitive), but that puts us at something of an apparent disadvantage when comparing to the first numbers that others may quote. A meaningful comparison of Stripe's fee to your alternatives unfortunately requires that you do some real digging to understand the total costs of those alternatives.

If you'd like our perspective on how to assess your alternatives, let us know! We may not seem the most objective of sources, but we've built up a fair bit of expertise.

Can I get a better rate if I have high volume?

Yes! Email us at support@stripe.com if you're on track to process over $80,000 per month.

What kind of commitment am I making?

None. We assess fees when you create payments with Stripe. Whenever you stop creating payments, we stop assessing fees.

There's no termination, no monthly fee, no minimums, and we're quite zealous in our commitment to data portability—so there's no lock-in.

What am I agreeing to when I sign up with Stripe?

During account activation (required to move out of test mode and accept live payments), you'll need to agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. We've worked hard to make them sensible and easy to read.

Getting Started

How do I start?

Start by creating an account, which only requires an email address and a password. The account starts in test mode, so don't worry! (Learn how to start charging customers.)

You or your development team will be able to immediately begin working with our API. (Learn how to create your first payment form.) You can use our test card numbers to make test payments and check other behavior.

You can also create and work with test customers and payments in the dashboard.

What do I need to do to start running real transactions?

It takes just a few minutes to activate your account by providing some basic information about you and your business. Once you've activated your account, you can begin running real charges immediately.

Rest assured that after activation you can still use test mode for development purposes whenever you wish. You'll get two API keys (like passwords for communicating with our API), one for running live charges and one for running test charges. And you'll have continued access to your test dashboard in addition to your live dashboard.

Why do you need my date of birth and 4 digits of my Social Security number?

Part of our responsibilities to our financial partners involves verifying your identity and confirming the legitimacy of your business. Collecting this information enables us to automate parts of this process so that you can start running charges immediately.

We do not use this information for any other purpose, and we take your privacy and the security of your data very seriously. (Read more about our security and privacy policy.)

Getting Help

I have general questions. What should I do?

Get in touch with us! The best way to get started is by heading to support.stripe.com.

Can I reach an engineer to talk about technical issues?

Yes, absolutely! Almost everyone responding to questions is an engineer by training. And engineer or not, if they don't know the answer they'll find someone who will.

Can't you just give me a phone number to call?

No—but please don't misunderstand this as any lack of interest! We'd love to answer your questions.

We know the decision to omit phone support is unusual, but after experimenting with different approaches, we've found that starting with email enables us to provide the fastest response. And if it makes sense to jump on the phone once we hear from you, we're happy to do so.

What if I need immediate help? What if something goes wrong?

As mentioned above, we don't currently have a 24/7 phone number you can call. With that said:

  • We have robust 24/7 monitoring in place, with multiple tiers of pager duty at all times. Glitches are extraordinarily rare, but should they happen, we expect to know about it and start fixing it before you know that anything happened. (And as soon as we do identify the issue, we'll let you know.)
  • We do have some plans for an urgent-contact mechanism that would tie into our current 24/7 pager coverage.

Receiving Funds

How do my payments get to me?

On a daily basis we'll initiate an electronic deposit into your bank account for payments made seven days earlier. E.g., you'll receive the funds for your March 1st charges on March 8th, and you'll receive the funds for your March 2nd charges on March 9th. (For deposits made on weekends or holidays, your bank would accept the deposit the next business day.)

The daily deposit is for the net payment amount—i.e., your charge to the customer, less our fees.

(Learn about the reporting that comes along with these daily deposits.)

Why does it take seven days?

For a bit of background, most other payment providers require a "reserve", i.e. a pile of cash that they hold onto to protect themselves against various risks associated with providing credit services to a business. This can often be a substantial fraction of monthly revenue, and becomes quite expensive from a cash-flow perspective.

Instead of a fixed reserve, our seven-day-turnaround approach is designed to be more aligned with most businesses' needs (though we understand it's not for everyone).

For comparison purposes, it may be helpful to note that other payment providers can often take 2-5 days to transfer funds (especially from payments via American Express).

Refunds and Chargebacks

In case the terminology is a bit unfamiliar: a refund is a credit you issue to a customer, e.g. because they returned their product. This is very different from a chargeback, which is what happens when a customer contacts their bank and demands that the bank yank their money back from you.

How do I issue refunds?

Refunds are easy—you can issue them via API just like creating a charge (here's how) or you can look up the charge in your dashboard and issue the refund there.

Refunds can be whole or partial (any amount up to the original amount of the charge).

When you refund a charge, the fees you paid to process the charge are also returned to you. That is, after charging and then completely refunding a payment, the net cost is zero. If you partially refund a charge, we refund the pro-rated portion of the percentage cost. For example, if you refund $50 of a $100 transaction, we refund $1.45 of $3.20. A simple way to think about this is that after charging and then partially refunding a payment, the net cost to you is the same as if you’d charged that amount in the first place.

How does Stripe handle chargebacks?

We'll work with you and the customer's credit card company to resolve chargebacks. Our aim is to make this process as simple, straightforward, and business-friendly as possible.

If/when a chargeback occurs, we'll send you an automated email with the details. If you'd like to respond to chargebacks on an automated basis, you can also set up a webhook (i.e. automated notification to your server).

To respond to the chargeback, just visit the disputes section of your dashboard. From there, you can click on the charge you'd like to respond to and view more information about why that charge has been disputed. Clicking the "Respond to dispute" button will allow you to enter your evidence that the charge is legitimate. (Evidence here is always somewhat subjective, but web logs, customer service emails, shipment tracking numbers and delivery confirmation, proof of prior refunds or replacement shipments, and so on, are all helpful.) Stripe will submit any information you can provide to your customer's credit card company, and keep you posted afterwards.

Stripe charges $15 per chargeback, though this fee is refunded if the issuing bank decides in your favor.

Even more about chargebacks.

The best way to deal with chargebacks is to minimize their likelihood in the first place! Read on for how...

How can I avoid chargebacks?

Here are the most important steps:

  • Make sure that customers will recognize the description that appears on their credit card statements. You can set this description on your settings page. We recommend you choose the name that customers most closely associate with you. This might not be your official corporate name—your website domain or the product for which you are known may be a good choice.
  • Make it really easy for irate customers to find your customer service contact information, and respond to customer inquiries quickly.
  • Similarly, have clear return and refund policies and make it really easy for irate customers to find them on your website.
  • If you ship physical goods, communicate accurate delivery times and keep customers updated throughout the delivery process. If possible, use online tracking and delivery confirmation.

Reporting

What kind of reporting is available?

We provide an easy-to-use online dashboard for you to review payments, customers, transfers, subscription plans and more. All data is also available for download in a CSV format.

How can I customize the reports?

We've discovered that everyone has their own specific preferences and needs when it comes to reports: what data should be available in a summary view vs. a detailed view? What user data from your application should be displayed alongside a user's payment history?

Rather than build a complex system for generating reports with lots of cryptic settings, we've created an easy-to-use dashboard, and provided an API that makes it a snap to access the data you need to build the reports you want. You'll have access to the exact same data that's made available in our dashboard, because we've built it on top of exactly the same API that you'll use.

Creating these custom reports should be an incremental development task; let us know if you have questions or run into any challenges, we're very happy to help.

Can Stripe help with reconciliation?

We deposit funds to your account on a rolling seven day basis. For each transfer you'll get a report describing exactly which payments and fees are included in the deposit.

We also make this information available from our API, so that your developers can create easily create custom reports or integrate the data with whichever other systems your use.

Can I pull my Stripe data into Quickbooks?

We have a Quickbooks export that helps you get your Stripe payments, refunds, fees, and transfers into Quickbooks easily. You can also always export any of your data to a CSV file from your dashboard. You can then import this CSV into other programs like Excel.

Security and PCI Compliance

What kind of security does Stripe have in place?

Security is our highest priority. Period.

We meet or exceed the most stringent industry standards: each piece of our infrastructure and each stage of our operations are designed with security in mind. Learn more about the technical details.

Is Stripe PCI compliant?

Yes.

Stripe has been audited by a PCI-certified auditor, and has in turn been certified as a PCI Level 1 Service Provider, the most stringent level of certification available. You can confirm our certification in Visa's registry of service providers.

Stripe is also a participant in the PCI Security Standards Council.

Do I need to be PCI compliant? What do I have to do?

Anyone involved with the processing, transmission, or storage of credit card data must comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS). Stripe makes it easy to do so:

  • Serve your payment page over SSL, i.e., the page's web address should begin with "https", not "http".
  • Use Stripe.js or Checkout to accept payment information and transmit it directly to Stripe's servers.

Depending on how you use Stripe, we'll ask you some questions on how you handle credit card data once you've been accepting payments. They're all from the Payment Card Industry's Security Questionnaires. We'll prompt you through your Dashboard when this is needed.

While complying with the Data Security Standards is important, it shouldn't be where you stop thinking about security. Some good resources to learn about web security are:

Should I serve my payment pages over SSL?

Yes, you should. Read more in our SSL documentation.

Can Stripe check Card Verification Codes (CVC)?

Yes.

When you create a payment with Stripe and the card data includes the CVC code, we will run a CVC check with the credit card network and return the results to you. If you wish, you can first run the CVC check and only then decide whether to charge the card.

Can Stripe verify that my customers' addresses are correct?

Yes.

As with Card Verification Codes (above), when you create a payment with Stripe and the card data includes an address, we verify the address with the credit card networks (this includes a separate check for zip code and street address) and return the results to you. If you wish, you can first run the address check and only then decide whether to charge the card.

We recommend address verification for anyone who's shipping physical goods.

What else do you do to prevent fraud?

Our main user-facing fraud prevention tool is to provide you with information: address verification, CVC checks, country of the card, etc. You can then use this information to decide whether to charge the card. The particular criteria you should use depends on the particulars of your business: we generally recommend that anyone concerned about fraud require a correct CVC prior to charging the card; if you're shipping physical goods, we also recommend requiring a correct address as well.

Separately, we work with our financial partners and the credit card networks to monitor fraud on a more global basis. For example, we watch for cards marked as fraudulent by banks or by other Stripe users, and the card-issuing banks will not authorize cards if abnormal behavior indicates a high probability of fraud.

Import/Export

What if I decide to leave Stripe? Can I export card data?

We're pretty zealous about data portability: we'll try to keep you with us by offering a better product than all of our competitors, but we won't keep you by locking you in. (We're programmers at heart, and we believe in open systems and a level playing field.) If you decide to leave Stripe for somebody else (sniff!) we'll help you migrate your credit card data in a secure and PCI-compliant way.

We divide data into two categories—that covered by PCI requirements (e.g. raw card numbers), and everything else. The "everything else" is easy—you're welcome to pull that information at any time via our API, nothing more is required.

For the PCI-covered data, you would just need to let us know the PCI-compliant provider to which data should be transferred. (And if your infrastructure is PCI-certified, we're happy to transfer it to you directly.) Email us and we'll get to work right away on a secure hand-off.

And no, there's no fee associated with this export.

Can I import my card numbers from [Authorize.Net, Braintree, PayPal, ...] to Stripe?

Yes, in most cases.

Please ping us at support@stripe.com and we can walk you through the process. Our strong preference with these migrations is to receive the customer data directly from your previous payments provider so as to take the burden off you and to keep everything PCI compliant.

PayPal is an unfortunate exception — they don't enable you to access your card data.

Miscellaneous

Will Stripe calculate sales taxes for me?

Nope, sorry! That's your responsibility.

What is the minimum amount I can charge with Stripe?

$0.50. We don't want you to lose money on a transaction.